Sugar

Have you ever noticed that disclaimer on your bag of sugar, the one that says “100% pure cane — contains No Beet.”  I never really thought about it until the beginning of this year.   We had my son tested for food allergies in December.  His results came back in January with IgE reactions for Milk & Beef, and IgG reactions for all dairy and sugar cane.

The beginning of this year marked a change in our diets.  We stopped eating out and started reading food labels.  I studied the FARE website on Milk Allergies.  I still review it.  I went through our cupboards and read all the labels on the food we had.  I found a new bullion to use that didn’t have whey in it.  I stopped using our taco seasoning which had milk in it and made my own.  I was surprised by the many places I found Milk.  I read blogs about others who had milk allergies.  I talked with a local mom who has an amazing allergy story for her children.  I learned about Nucoa buttery sticks and that most margarine products have a form of milk in them.

At first I was overwhelmed by all the changes but now we are settling in to a new food routine.  I’m lucky that my son is old enough to understand that the food he’s allergic to make his body sick and he plays an active roll in asking people if there is milk in the food they offer him.  He’s also a reader, so when he asks for a type of food at the store I ask him to read the label.  Often milk products are highlighted, so he knows right away if it’s a food he can eat or not.

Cutting out beef was not as hard as milk.  It has been easy to substitute pork, chicken, or turkey for beef.  My son loves fish sticks and he learned he loves pork chops too!

After we had a handle on eliminating milk and pork from his diet, I started trying to figure out what I could use as a sugar substitute.  I like baking him cookies and I’ve always used regular sugar that boasts “100% cane.”  After searching locally I came across beet sugar on Amazon.  I was going to make my own brown sugar with molasses, but it turns out that molasses is made from cane sugar too.  One of the things I read online was that coconut sugar has a brown sugar like taste.  I could find coconut sugar in my local grocery stores, but it was $6-7 a pound.  I found a 3 pack of coconut sugar on Amazon for just over $4 a pound.  Yay!  Now I bake cookies with Nucoa, beet, and coconut sugars.  They don’t taste the same, but they are still yummy.

A year in cloth diapers!

We’ve passed several amazing milestones this year, a dozen years of marriage, a decade in our house, and a year in cloth diapers!

A year after tentatively buying 2 JSB pocket diapers from, Buckwheat Bottoms, we’re still doing it!  I don’t have cold hard numbers for you on money we have saved.  I do know I’ve tried to stick to spending less than what we would have been spending on paper diapers each month as I update and expand my diaper library.

Little in a Rainbow Brite fitted diaperAlong the way I’ve made some discoveries.  My daughter is what’s known as a ‘heavy wetter’ in the cloth diaper world.  I love the simplicity of using a trifolded prefold in a cover.  I don’t love pockets as much as I thought I would.  I do love natural fibers, cotton and bamboo are my friends.  I put off trying wool, but wool is cool!  It’s so amazing, and washing it every 1-2 weeks or when it gets dirty is NBD.  Fitted diapers with a wool cover are awesome for night time.

Around December my big baby decided to grow.  When she was 1 she weighed 27 pounds and was 31.5″ tall.  At her 18 month check up in December she clocked in at 33 pounds and 34″ tall.  Many of our pocket diapers started to fit poorly, or were too small.  The snaps on my favorite Rumparooz covers sprang open.  I found myself floundering, searching for styles that fit my daughters body and her active nature.  Cotton Babies had large FuzziBunz Perfect Size Diapers and Bummis Super Snap covers on clearance so I ordered some to try.  Large FuzziBunz diapers are large.  They sort of fit, but not well, they were a little too big.  They came with 1 microfiber insert and they don’t absorb fast enough for my ‘heavy wetter’ daughter.  When I added an extra insert, it helped with the absorption, but then they became bulky.

Little in her Rainbow Brite dress and fitted diaperI broke down and tried some BumGenius 4.0 diapers.  For some reason I was trying to ‘buck the trend’ of the popular BG diapers.  Susan at Buckwheat Bottoms had some pre-owned options in her store so I bought a few to try out.  Where the JSB pocket diapers were too small, the BG gave her nice room above her thighs so she could still move freely.  The BG 4.0 diapers still fit my Little.

Around February I came to the realization that I needed more absorbent material than the average cloth diaper uses.  When I realized that I needed to ad an extra insert to everything that works for the average child I felt like I wasn’t floundering quite as much.  The covers stopped leaking and I didn’t have to change the bedding as much!    The type of absorption mattered too.  Microfiber didn’t absorb fast enough for us.  I started using cotton inserts and put my stack of flour sacks to use.  I could fold the flour sacks to fit into many different covers/pockets/styles.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to make the realization that we needed natural absorbent fibers and more of them, but there it is.

Little taking a nap in our loaner wool longiesOur diaper stash started shifting.  I acquired more GroVia shells.  We use their organic cotton snap in soaker pads inserts with their organic cotton boosters.  The boosters don’t seem like much but they make all the difference in the world for us!  I fold down the top a little and stick them inside the soaker pads.  They stay put and make diaper changes faster.  These trim diapers fit my daughter well.  They don’t get in the way of her active nature.  We are still using our GroVia diapers.  I also picked up 2 more Flip trainers.  They work for us if I have two inserts in them.

Little showing off her big jumps in her BottomBumperI bought my first ‘fancy’ fitted.  I had a few plain ones.  A couple workhorse terry Popolini ones I’d bought preowned, and some Bumboos I bought on the baby steals site.  I was ready to try what everyone in the cloth diaper group was talking about; Wool and Fitted diapers!  I had some wool.  A friend is lending us her awesome longies but I was chicken to use them over night.  I bought a wool wrap, but it was too small to use over our night time configuration.  It wasn’t until I found the XL Loveybums at Buckwheat bottoms that I had some big enough for our night time solution.  When I started using wool covers at night it was amazing.  My girl’s night time diapers are something else.  I often sing that Sir Mix-a-Lot song when I see her in her night time diaper.  A prefold wrapped around a cotton insert laid in a popolini fitted wrapped in wool.  That lasts about 4 hours or so.  Neither one of my kiddos likes being wet at night.  Doesn’t matter if it is a paper diaper or cloth.  They get angry and start kicking, and nobody sleeps once they start kicking!   I put her in one night time configuration when she goes to sleep, change her when I get in bed around 10/11 and that lasts through the night, most of the time.  In the last month she’s started holding her pee better at night.

I bought a large RagaBabe All in One from a local woman in April.  Not counting wool, it’s the most expensive diaper I own and I love it.  It has hook and loop closure which sometimes irritates me, but I’m glad I bought the diaper.  It still fits my girl, and I know it will hold and not leak.  If we weren’t so close to potty learning, I’d buy more.

Little taking a break at the park in her Bottom BumperI also bought two Large snap Bottom Bumpers from Buckwheat Bottoms in April; they rock!  When I added the extra insert, they were perfect for us.  They have an amazingly narrow crotch area.  Their design is trim and they fit my big girl awesomely.  I thought I was a snap only girl but I bought some Large Aplix (hook and loop) diapers on clearance and they are awesome too.  I love the easy of putting on an Aplix diaper instead of fiddling with snaps.

In May I purchased a custom Rainbow Brite diaper from Happy Little Llama.  Such a sweet side snapping fitted that my little loves wearing with the Rainbow Brite dress we happily stumbled upon.  Another mama had bought the dress for her daughter, but it was too big.  It fits Little perfectly!  Paired with a Loveybum pull on cover it is a winning combination.

In June I snagged some XL side snapping Clover fitted diapers that someone had traded in at Buckwheat Bottoms.  Paired with a tri-folded prefold, they are our new go to night time solution.  Their design is unique, they have what looks like a pocket with snaps inside, but it’s not a pocket.  It’s a way to adjust the button hole elastic on the inside; sweet!  I was waffling about buying both of them.  So glad I was able to decide quickly to buy both of them.  Sadly, you can no longer buy them new.

My current quest is to find cute pull on wool for my girl.  If it’s not soft and brightly colored she has no interest in wearing it.  My Little is currently 34 pounds and nearly 37″ tall.  She has a 20″ waist and 12″ thighs.  It is a challenge to find trim fitted diapers to go with the cute wool.  I’m trying my hand at sewing some that will hopefully fit her perfectly under her new to us size 3 Sustainablebabyish underwoolies!

3 30 foot clothes lines!It’s been an adventure trying cloth diapers.  My husband was not on board when I started.  He used to frequently make negative comments about cloth and search for a paper diaper if he needed to change a diaper.  He hasn’t said anything, but little things tell me he’s coming around.  He no longer tells me how much the diapers stink when I put them in the washer to wash them.  One time we were traveling I only packed paper diapers and our daughter’s diaper leaked after her first pee that evening, thankfully I had put down one of those pads anticipating that.  He said “There’s a cloth diaper in the car, should I go get it?”  It was so sweet.  He even installed an amazing clothes line for me between our porch and garage.

Cloth isn’t for everyone, but I’m really glad I tried it out.  Sometimes it seems overwhelming with all the different options, but options are good.  No two babies are the same.  As my baby grew and changed different diapers fit her better.  It’s been a fun adventure figuring out what works best for us.  I’ve met a ton of amazing local mommas who cloth diaper.  I’ll bet there’s a local Facebook group for cloth diapering mommas in your neck of the woods too!  You should check it out.

Why I started cloth diapering

I can’t remember when I started thinking I would like to try cloth diapers.  I have a marvelous way of over thinking and never doing.  My friend added me to a cloth diaper group on Facebook in April.  In early June I was visiting my sister and we were hanging out one night.  I was doing a fantastic job talking about cloth diapers.  We covered prefolds, fitteds, all in ones, and why I thought pockets would work best for my baby who doesn’t lay still for diaper changes.  (I still hadn’t tried cloth yet.)  I started musing and crunching numbers while we were talking.  We go through 10 diapers a day.  My daughter is a pee machine, she likes to poop as soon as I change her, and I have an OCD like tendency to change her diapers as soon as they are wet.  Everyday I was taking a plastic grocery sack full of diapers out to the garbage can.  It is $0.25 for each size 5 Kirkland diaper.  That is $2.50 a day, $75 a month, $912.5 a year that we spend on diapers.

My first cloth diaper purchase, 2 Just Simply Baby Pocket diapers!Later that week, Buckwheat Bottoms, a local mom run cloth diaper store, ran a special on Just Simply Baby pocket diapers.  I bought two.  If I used one cloth diaper a day it would be paid for in 40 days.  And I figured if I only used one a day then I could avoid washing poopy diapers.  Even though I flush the solid poop from paper diapers, I don’t put any effort to scraping the smooshed stuff out.  I was confident I could do my experiment and pay for my two diapers.  I challenged myself to put Lil’ in at least one cloth diaper a day for a month.

Then something unexpected happened.  Well, not totally unexpected, but it caught me off guard.  After I changed my daughter into her first clean cloth diaper, she pooped; right away.  Remember what I said?  Yes, she prefers to poop in a clean diaper.  Figures!  As I cleaned that poopy diaper in the toilette, sometimes thinking ‘I am going to be sick’ and other times thinking ‘this isn’t so bad,’ it occurred to me that ‘I can do this.’

I went back to Buckwheat Bottoms and bought two more pocket diapers.  I was nervous about my long term commitment, but excited and confident that I would continue my month long challenge of using at least one cloth diaper a day.  I found something to wash everyday so I could clean my diapers and have them ready for the next day of use.

I started this crazy endeavor on June 18.  I passed my monthly challenge with flying colors.  I celebrated by purchasing 6 gently used Rumparooz and two Kissa Pocket Trainers.  I even splurged on a Flip Trainer.  A friend brought over some of her stash for me to use until her little grows into it which has given me a chance to try different pockets, covers, and fitteds.  At the beginning of this month, JSB ran an overstock special and I picked up 3 more diapers with inserts for a super deal.  August 5th Lil’ spent the whole day in cloth.  I used one paper diaper as her second night time diaper.  I’ve continued using cloth all day with one paper diaper at night.  Last night I put her in cloth as her second night time diaper.  It’s been over 24 hours since I put her in a paper diaper.  I wonder how long I can keep her going in cloth.

I have spent $200 on cloth diapers.  If I can go two and a half months without using paper, I’ll have paid for my current cloth diaper purchases.  My daughter will be in diapers for at least that much longer.  (I should have kept better track of how often I have used the diapers since I started.)  When Lil’ is potty trained, I can sell my diapers or donate them to a mom who cannot afford to buy diapers.

Why did I start cloth diapering?  It’s something I wanted to try.  They are super cute.  I feel good not throwing away a bag of diapers everyday.  I’m going to save money.  But most of all, I can do this!

Water for Christmas

This morning when I got up, I took a quick, for me,  15 minute shower in clean drinkable water.  The USGS estimates that showers use 2.5 gallons of water a minute.  What a blessing it is to live where I can luxuriate* every morning in 40 gallons of clean drinkable water.

Water has been on my mind.  Joy’s Hope reminds me.  Whatever reminds me, and my facebook friends remind me.  I’ve been thinking a lot about water.

Water for Christmas.

Living Water International.

charity: water.

I cannot imagine having to walk more than a mile to collect 5 gallons of dirty water for my family to use for the whole day.  I cannot imagine.

Cannot fathom.

 

 

I have water, physical and living water. Thank you God.

Getting in the Holiday Spirit with Operation Christmas Child

shoebox goodnessI’m excited I got my shoebox packed for Operation Christmas Child.  I usually pack a shoebox, but this year I’ve been planning my shoebox for a long time.  I wanted to pack a shoebox full of embroidery floss for a 10-14 year old girl to make friendship bracelets.  I’ve been cleaning out my pack ratted away stuff and I used the shoebox from my wedding shoes.  I can’t even remember what used to be in there, but now it’s wrapped pretty and full of goodness for my girl.  It’s an extra special box.  All year long I’ve been collecting goods to donate to my church when they have their packing night.  I’ve got two paper boxes full of school supplies, clothing items, games, and toys I find on super sale through out the year.   I used a %40 off coupon to score my large package of embroidery floss.

Last weekend I started packing my box. I wanted to include some instructions on how to make various friendship bracelets.  I found several good instructions on the web; including a loom based friendship bracelet.  I really wanted to find how to make a box braid bracelet.  When I was young I had some friends who were whizzes at making them.  I had never figured it out before.  I was determined to figure it out and send my girl a bracelet that I had made.

finger loom box braid friendship braceletErin was able to clear up my confusion and set me straight on making my box braid bracelet.  The one photo that was missing from her tutorial was in the video she linked too, but I can’t really put an online video in my shoebox so I set about taking the critical shot.   It was an entertaining process and I used my gorilla pod to it’s full potential.  It’s not very exciting and you should have seen the look my husband gave me when I showed him.

I wanted my son to pack a box too.  Being 4 he was convinced he needed a shoebox.  I asked him if he’d like to trade his room for a shoebox.  He didn’t think that was a good idea but he still wasn’t ready to give away all those brand new toys to someone else.  He finally filled a box after watching me pack mine.  Hopefully he understands that some other little boy is going to love getting his shoebox full of cool cars.

Now that I have some boxes packed I’m lingering over the videos on the Samaritan’s Purse site.  I even reread Meg’s post on Whatever about her box packing to get in the spirit.  Shoe boxes full of goodness, spreading the gospel, doing God’s work.  It makes me smile and fills my heart with happy thoughts.  I can’t wait to pack more boxes at my church on Wednesday night.

This year in addition to paying for our boxes online so I can follow them, I’m going to write a letter to my girl.  It will be the first time I’ve actually written to my shoebox kid.  I pray when my box reaches my girl she loves it and it opens her heart to being saved by God’s grace.

Why studded snow tires drive me nuts

First, there’s the annoying clicking noise they make as they drive past you; like a dog running on tile that needs its nails clipped.  Second, they destroy the roads; meaning you and I have to pay more taxes to fix the torn up roads.  Third, they only improve traction for “glare ice” road conditions; that’s one, maybe two days a year where I live.  “Research on studded tires consistently shows that vehicles equipped with studded tires require a longer stopping distance on wet or dry pavement than do vehicles equipped with standard tires.”

One more time with lots of feeling: “Tire studs reduce the full contact between a tire’s rubber compound and the pavement.”